Bronx, NY—-After an absence of more than a year, professional boxing returned to the historic Paradise Theater in the Bronx on Friday night, May 14. The card co-promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions featured a number of young, undefeated professional boxers hoping to move into the limelight. To help them achieve their goal, the card was televised on TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo Tecate.
None of the combatants are yet ranked as most are in the early stages of their careers. DeGuardia is known for offering young fighters an opportunity for exposure and advancement, especially those from the metropolitan area. Despite graduating from law school and his election last year as president of the Boxing Promoters Association (BPA), DeGuardia has not forgotten his days as a Golden Gloves champ in New York City. The tenth installment of his Punchin’ at the Paradise series is a good example of his positive attitude.
The headline bout featured the first East Coast appearance of Adrien “The Problem” Broner (15-0, 12 KO’s). He faced Rafael “The Dominican Man” Lora (11-3, 5 KO’s) in a lightweight encounter. The bout was scheduled for 10 rounds, but ended at the conclusion of the first as the 20 year-old Broner proved to be a problem for Lora. Broner pounded the Dominican native with hard rights and lefts. At the sound of the bell, the referee checked Lora and stopped the bout. The loss was Lora’s third straight after winning his first 11 bouts.
Two unbeaten lightweights squared off in the co-feature, but only one left the ring with his undefeated mark intact. Mike “The Artist” Perez (8-0, 3 KO’s) of Newark, New Jersey did not give a pleasant East Coast welcome to Francisco Reyes (5-1, 2 KO’s). The hard-fought encounter was a crowd pleaser as both boxers did not back up. Reyes was dropped in the first round. A cut over his left eye in the third caused the front of his white trunks to change color. He was again knocked down in the final round. The nod of the judges was one-sided in favor of Perez, 60-52, 59-53 and 59-53. This fight was the first for the native of Mexico outside his current residence, the state of Washington while Perez of nearby Newark was supported by a large contingent of fans.
A boxer who was born far from U.S. shores, but now resides in the metropolitan area, kept his undefeated record intact. Ahmed “The Prince of Egypt” (9-0, 2 KO’s), 25, defeated 39 year-old John Douglas (7-14-3, 3 KO’s) in a cruiserweight encounter. Samir, an experienced amateur, was a gold medalist in several international competitions in the past few years, but his amateur experience did not show in a bout very unpopular with ringside observers. Douglas, born in Guyana, in only his fourth bout since December 2005, was very awkward. He hit the canvas twice, once on a slip and the second time on a hard shove by Samir. The evening’s concluding encounter was the only sour note in an interesting card.
Two Bronx natives were victorious in front of their families, friends and neighbors. A large Albanian contingent of fans including his cousin, former contender Elvir Muriqi, loudly supported Bronx native Shqiprim “White Tiger” Muriqi in his successful attempt to remain unbeaten (4-0, 2 KO’s). Muriqi handed 31 year-old Rondu Campbell (2-5) his fourth consecutive loss in the ring. The judges gave all rounds to Muriqi in their scoring, 40-36 by each of the judges. Before the bout, Muriqi explained the importance of the sport of boxing in his family, “Boxing is in my blood. My whole family is into boxing. My uncles in Kosovo, and of course my cousin Elvir all box. Watching Elvir fight as a kid, I knew I that I wanted to follow in his footsteps one day.” The 22 year old lives a very busy life. He is a full-time student at Westchester Community College, works as a personal trainer as well as pursuing his boxing career.
The other Bronx winner and only female, Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea (14-2, 8 KO’s) is hopeful of another title shot. The 29 year-old lost a title attempt on February 21, 2009 at Madison Square Garden. In an attempt to earn another title shot, Shea treated her Bronx fans to a one-sided victory. Pounding her opponent from Puerto Rico with both hands, the fight was halted by the referee at 1:59 of the third. The popular Bronx fighter of Mexican-Irish ancestry was a clear favorite of the fans in attendance.
The opening bout between two undefeated super bantamweights, Raul Lopez (3-1-1, 3 KO’s) of the Bronx and Daniel Aquino (4-0) ended at the conclusion of the scheduled four rounds. Both young men were active and threw punches successfully. The very close, majority decision went to Aquino. The scores were 38-38 and 39-37 on the cards of the two of the judges. The bout was very well received by the fans.